Little-Known British Brand Bamford Has Helped Steer Eco Chic Towards Très Chic
By: Emma Lee
February 29, 2016
Organic and sustainable are seldom seen in a more glamorous package than the fashion and beauty products delivered by Bamford. By virtue of its charismatic, aristocrat founder and its cashmere goods, the English brand has earned a reputation for pared-down glamour, a blend of classic taste with a contemporary twist for those considered well-heeled and in the know.
That, however, seems likely to change somewhat if the brand is able to make good on its plans to move beyond this traditional clientele and grow its diversity of products and retail reach.
Bamford is not a typical label. Its underlying dedication to sustainable, organic and holistic living sets it apart. Then there is its founder, Carole Bamford, whose devotion to organic living inspired the evolution of a 607-hectare estate in Gloucestershire into Daylesford, the base for an upmarket organic food, farm shop and cafe empire.
From its origins as a typical farm operating deep in the English countryside, Daylesford has opened several outlets in London’s most fashionable neighbourhoods, a concession at Selfridges and an award-winning gastropub. There is also the farm itself, still fully operational and built around a collection of picture-perfect, honey-coloured stone cottages that house a cookery school, restaurant, farm shop, women’s boutique and the Haybarn Spa, which stocks Bamford’s beauty line and offers tantalising treatments. This is all situated in show-stopping countryside that needs absolutely #nofilter.
Thrown into the mix is Bamford’s husband. Anthony Bamford is the chairman of J.C. Bamford Excavators Limited, a manufacturer of equipment for the construction and agriculture sectors. One of Britain’s foremost and most successful industrialists, he is a leading figure in political and society circles, featuring prominently on rich lists. Carole however is the embodiment of the brand, living and breathing the good life, albeit on a grand scale. She has done more than make organic fashionable, she has made it desirable.
She has endured her fair share of cynicism, with critics questioning her business acumen and dubbing the business an expensive folly, but has proved the doubters wrong.
For all the high-profile allure, it’s easy to overlook Carole’s fundamental passion for the Bamford brand, which is to deliver beautiful, sustainable natural products from the world’s best artisans.
She is not afraid to roll up her sleeves and get involved. In fact, she is reportedly involved in Bamford’s every aspect. From the tiny to the titanic, her attention to detail is said to be all-encompassing. A signature heart motif can be seen on everything from the wooden applicators used in the new skincare line, to the shell buttons that adorn cashmere, and the natural and organic ingredients used in the beauty line and fashion collections that have all been selected for their sustainability.
The website proudly declares Bamford as a way of life, one that more and more people want to buy into. Whether you are shopping in one of the two boutiques in London or visiting a shop within a shop on the French Riviera, the quality is the same. The experience envelops you up in a calm and airy embrace.
The fashion business shies from the high turnover, seasonal pressures felt by other labels, preferring a more curated approach. There are sumptuous knits in soft, muted tones of stone, ivory, khaki and aubergine. New this season is cornflower blue. All are crafted from organic cotton and the softest cashmere.
From slouchy knits to Scandinavian-inspired tops and dresses, the spring/summer 2016 collection features clean-cut lines with little fuss, but beautiful details such as delicate beading and layering of fabric. More traditional finishes include smocking, which adds to the artisan feel.
The signature bath and body lines feature fresh botanical scents – geranium, peppermint, rose and lavender – made with natural and organic ingredients certified by leading environmental charity the Soil Association and housed in green bottles adorned with the Bamford ‘b’ that make the ugliest of bathrooms seem spa-like.
These same products are used in the branded facials that are available in select five-star hotels and resorts, including The Berkeley in London, Antibes’ Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc and, most recently, the magnificent Fortnum & Mason department store. The treatments integrate holistic therapeutic techniques, including yogic breathing, facial reflexology, lymphatic drainage and hot and cold jade stones – heart shaped, of course. Exquisite attention to detail can be seen in every treatment room, down to the coat hooks made from birch twig that add a touch of the great outdoors to the inviting indoors.
Each facial begins with the burning of palo santo wood to purify the treatment room. The scent is divine, reflecting the wood’s ritual use in traditional South American societies. Every treatment is personalised according to skin type using the new range of skincare and elixirs that are variously said to restore, nourish or repair skin.
The thinking behind the range is typically bigger picture. “What goes on the body is as important as what we put inside,” says Bamford. The ethos is at the heart of the skincare line, divided into three core categories of Life, Awaken and Restore.
We’re informed that we shouldn’t be duped into thinking that this is just another natural and organic skincare line. Bamford worked with therapists and leading formulators to develop the range, with a mandate that if it wasn’t good enough to be used at Haybarn spas, it would not make the grade.
Life is the product line’s workhorse, designed for daily skincare. There’s a cleansing balm, facial oil, treatment serum and moisturisers infused with strawberry seed oil, which is said to pack a protective punch. A powerful elixir with organic argan oil has a deep moisturising action, and can be combined with other products to provide a nourishing boost.
For more specific needs, the apple, lemon and red grape extracts in the Awaken products have the net effect of helping to smooth and refine skin, gently exfoliating and promoting cell regeneration. There’s a weekly exfoliating mask, rich in natural fruit enzymes, purifying English white clay and soothing aloe vera, which helps slough off skin-dulling impurities.
The Bamford solution for dry and tired skin is Restore. This line comprises a nourishing weekly treatment mask and Restore elixir containing organic rosehip, a rich source of wrinkle reducing retinol, and vitamin E that helps to firm and restore, while sorting out dehydrated skin. “I have been using rosehip since childhood and believe in their power to restore and rejuvenate the skin,” says Bamford. “In autumn their bright surface is a dash of colour among the drying leaves of the countryside.”
The holistic nature of the Haybarn Spa goes beyond facials and massages. There have been collaborations with some of the world’s top yoga, pilates and meditation experts, who offer classes at the farm in the Cotswolds and at The Berkeley. Fitting then that the hotel in Knightsbridge, with its rooftop pool, secret garden and panoramic views of Hyde Park, has occasionally been billed as a slice of the country in the heart of the city.
Even with all the activity involving the Bamford brand, both current and planned, this is a relatively new luxury brand that is only now celebrating its 10th anniversary. In that context, what has been achieved in such a short space of time is extraordinary. But the brand’s founder is not resting on her laurels. A partnership with Le Bristol Paris and new launches of skincare products are among the plans for this year. While expansion beckons, one hopes that the unassuming nature the Bamford brand is known for ensures that it remains one of Britain’s best-kept secrets.